European Silver Medallion with a Rider Killing a Chimera (Bellerophon?), Migration Period, 5th-7th Century AD
The medallion is surrounded by a stylized laurel wreath interspersed with flowers and shells. The center is occupied by a horseman galloping from left to right. He is armed with a spear that he points at the open mouth of a chimera. He wears a long tunic and a cloak floating behind his shoulder. The harness of the animal is rich and composed of pendants (croup and chest), as well as of a blanket, the edge of which copies the dotted pattern of the lower tunic of the rider. The chimera (a mythological creature with body and head of a lion, the head of a goat and the tail of a snake) moves to the opposite direction of the horseman. The open mouth of the creature is pierced by the pole of the spear, while the goat’s and snakes heads exhale their last breath.
This iconography strikes our visual memory, because it is close to the representation of the horseback saints, such as St. George. Nevertheless, this representation stylistically refers to the early Middle Ages, during which the cult of this saint had not appeared in the West yet.